Fiddle and Viola
Lauren MacColl has been described as one of Scotland’s most expressive fiddle players. Her performances are emotive, engaging and informed by equal helpings of tradition and technique. From the Black Isle, she studied music in Glasgow before returning home to the Highlands, from where she draws much of her musical inspiration.
A founder member of both the chamber-folk quartet RANT and the song-trio Salt House, Lauren also performs with the Rachel Newton Band
In 2017 she was commissioned by Fèis Rois to write a suite of music based on the life and prophecies of the Brahan Seer. Premiered at Celtic Connections, the music was released as an album to critical acclaim.
Lauren was fiddle tutor for RCS Junior Conservatoire for over a decade, continues to teach her own students and community groups, and runs the Black Isle Fiddle Weekend for adult learners each year.
Her work as a session musician on viola and fiddle has seen her record for a wide variety of artists across the Scottish music scene. In 2019 she realised a book of her own tunes titled ‘To The North…’ and toured the Seer across major Scottish venues. Her latest recording of almost entirely solo traditional airs ‘Landskein’ – recorded in Abriachan Hall – was released in August 2020 and achieved ‘Top of the World’ status in Songlines Magazine.
Lauren writes of the inspiration for her three-part composition.
The year that just was provided so many challenges for us as musicians, but on a very basic level it allowed for a pause and reflection. The most valued positive for me from it all was the chance to truly connect with things right on our doorstep. We’ve lived in our tiny hamlet for a couple of years, and appreciated the wildlife on our doorstep and our access to nature, but never anywhere near as much as in 2020. The life of a musician doesn’t usually allow for routine, to be present in a place long enough to notice subtle changes in season or in light. The small hill seen from our window is Stac Gorm, a good vantage point for looking down on Loch Ruthven, and on a fine day to a whole landskein of hilltops north, west and south. In summer, when the evenings were still and the lapwings were dancing in the sky in the field opposite, I began to notice where the sun was setting in relation to the hill, how the light was casting over it. For the first time in my adult life, I was in the same place (and not busy working) long enough to notice these patterns, and came to be able to tell the time based on that sunset, and sunrise. The time the final curlew’s call echoed in the sky at dusk, the oystercatchers chatter in the morning. It was a magical summer in many ways, that showed me how to take proper time within nature, and to let nature show you time and season.
Stac Gorm has felt like a guardian watching over us in 2020, although at many points this winter you can’t see it for the driving rain or blizzard. It’s also a hill that’s given happiness – I got engaged at the start of lockdown at the top!Lauren MacColl January 2021
With Ewan MacPherson (guitar) and Mairearad Green (bagpipes). Recorded at home, January 2021.